Federal prosecutors accuse multiple Colorado restaurants of drug money laundering

By Trevor Reid

GREELEY — Almansitas Mexican Food restaurant in Greeley is one of 17 restaurants implicated in a federal drug trafficking and money laundering investigation, with each of those restaurants having their accounts frozen and assets seized by federal authorities.

The original court filing from Nov. 13, has been sealed, but court filings in response to the charges from Almansitas owner Ana Cejudo hint at the allegations.

Cejudo in her response says the restaurant has never served as a drug trafficking front, nor has it laundered money, according to federal court filings.

But the response also refers to Drug Enforcement Administration databases and two safe deposit boxes seized by federal authorities containing more than $805,000.

The response also touches on money laundering operations, including a reference to layering — in which criminals use complex financial transactions to hide illegal sources of cash.

The case against Cejudo and Almansitas could also sweep up other Mexican restaurants, including Taco Star, with locations across Colorado, as it appears many of the same people are involved, and those people also appear to share a bank account, according to court filings.

Taco Star, a 24-hour Mexican fast food restaurant with drive-through service, has locations in Longmont, Northglenn, Aurora and Colorado Springs.

Despite the similarities between Almansitas and Almanzas — both 24-hour Mexican food restaurants with similar menus, signs and food — the restaurants are listed under different owners, the latter belonging to a Tomas Lopez Alamilla, according to Secretary of State business filings.

In Cejudo’s response, she asserts that Almansitas and Almanzas are separate entities owned by different people.

Taco Star is filed under a registered agent named Carolina Almanza, who shares a mailing address with Almansitas, according to business filings. But no one with the surname Almanza is listed as a defendant in the case.

In her response, Cujedo admits Cosme Gutierrez, another defendant listed in the court filing, is an owner of Taco Star. Cujedo also admits she, Gutierrez and Almansitas are the claimants for a single bank account, according to court records.

Gutierrez claims to be one of the owners of Almansitas in his response to the initial filing and is listed as a founder of the restaurant in its 2014 articles of organization. Cujedo, Gutierrez, Almansitas and Taco Star are being represented by Thomas Fleener, a Wyoming and Colorado criminal defense attorney based in Laramie.

The responses reference analyses of seized accounts dating back to October 2015. The responses also reference a section of the original filing titled “Connections between Jose Aguilar and Narcotics Trafficking.” The same Aguilar appears to own a bank account also associated with a business called El Potosino Foods, LLC, prosecutors asserted in the original filing.

When asked over a Friday evening phone call about the federal case, an Almansitas employee spoke with a man working at the restaurant before responding that they can’t give any information out.

East Bay defense contractors charged with money laundering, fraud, conspiracy

MARTINEZ — Three members of a respected San Ramon business family have been accused of engaging in money laundering, bribing employees, and insurance fraud, all while their companies were contracting with the U.S. Armed forces.

Wife and husband Selina Singh, 55, and Manjinder Paul “MP” Singh, 57, along with their son, Kabir Singh, 28, were charged in November with conspiracy, $1.5 million in money laundering and several counts of workers compensation fraud and insurance fraud, according to court records. The charges are tied to two San Ramon businesses owned by the family, Bara Infoware and Federal Solutions Group.

Selina and Kabir Singh have both posted bail, and are out of custody. MP Singh has not yet been arrested, prosecutors said. On Monday, a judge will review a prosecution motion to increase the bail amount to $500,000.

The charging documents allege that the defendants instructed employees not to report injuries, sometimes giving them bribes as an incentive, in order to avoid paying insurance fees. They’re also accused of providing false information to insurance companies.

Both companies are construction businesses that contract with the Department of Defense, according to the companies’ websites. Federal Solutions Group’s website says its clients include the U.S. Armed Services, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the National Guard, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Neither business nor Selina Singh immediately returned email requests for comment. A 2016 article by a business news site called American City Business Journals says Singh is Federal Solution’s Group’s CEO. She is quoted in the article saying she immigrated to the United States from Northern India and had no business experience in the U.S. when she started. She talked about the need for obsessive attention to detail in her field.

“One failed project can bring you down after five or six years of work,” she told the publication. “So we have to be extremely diligent in everything we do.”

A former manager at Federal Solutions Group is quoted in the story saying Singh “takes care of her employees.”

The charging records cover a seven-year period, starting in September 2010 until December 2017. All told, the Contra Costa District Attorney’s office filed 14 felony charges, including enhancements alleging aggravated white-collar crime.

What drives a public official to white-collar crime? ‘Greed’

By Jennifer Bowman

ASHEVILLE — Buncombe County officials illegally used taxpayer dollars to enrich themselves, paying for daytime shopping trips, private phone bills, meals, vacations, spa treatments and other personal pleasures, according to federal indictments. Three of them have admitted as much.

Research says they’re not the first to try out government corruption.

A 2018 report by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners found occupational fraud in government and public administration caused organizations a median loss of more than $125,000, most commonly through corruption schemes. Financial damage was worse when the fraud was committed by a person of authority like a manager or executive, and even greater when multiple perpetrators were involved.

What is the cost to Buncombe County?

In Buncombe, federal prosecutors say corruption has cost much more. Even without quantifying the alleged kickbacks received by former managers Wanda Greene, Mandy Stone and Jon Creighton, the U.S. Attorney’s Office cited more than $200,000 in illegal credit card purchases and more than $2.5 million used for life insurance policies.

That’s not including millions of dollars in other controversial expenses made under Greene’s 20-year tenure as county manager, prosecutors allege.

What would drive Buncombe’s highest-ranking administrators — already paid handsomely with six-figure base salaries, bonuses, retention incentives and some of the best benefits in the state — to behave in such a way?

If they’re like any white-collar criminal, it’s greed, said Michael Clark, a former FBI agent with decades of experience investigating public corruption.

“They go in there usually with pretty good intentions, and they see (money) all around them,” Clark said. “They’re giving out a million-dollar contract to a sewer guy, another million to a road guy. Everyone’s getting rich around them — they have a lot of money, beach houses, ski trips, trips to Florida.

“The county manager — they’re civil servants. They’re making a set salary, which is comfortable but not rich. They kind of feel this sense of entitlement. ‘I’m as smart as these guys. They’re rich. I’m stuck with a civil service job. I deserve the perks.’ The greed part steps in. And we saw that time after time after time.”

No oversight? ‘That just opens the floodgates’

The report by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, conducted annually and in its 10th edition, said most employees never commit fraud. But when they do, researchers said, they can cause “enormous damage.”

Of nearly 2,700 cases across more than 100 countries, the study found that most occupational fraud costs a victim organization less than $200,000. Twenty-two percent, however, exceed $1 million in financial damage.

The schemes last an average of 16 months, according to the report. Government and public organizations are among the industries with the highest proportion of corruption cases.

Prosecutors allege fraud in Buncombe County government is wide-ranging, involves multiple longtime officials and dates back to more than a decade ago.

Four officials have been indicted: Greene, Stone, Creighton, and Michael Greene, Wanda Greene’s adult son and the county’s former business intelligence manager.

All but Wanda Greene have reached deals with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, pleading guilty to conspiracy charges. Joe Wiseman, a Georgia-based engineer said to be at the center of the yearslong kickback scheme with the former managers, has not been charged.

The four ex-officials represent a total of nearly 110 years as county employees. Wanda Greene served as county manager for two decades — nearly three times longer than the average tenure of city and county managers in the U.S. Stone and Creighton were Buncombe staffers for even longer.

Fraudsters who had been working with their company longer stole twice as much, according to fraud examiners’ findings: If the perpetrator had worked more than 10 years at the organization, the financial damage increased by over six times more than the median loss caused by the fraudulent scheme of someone who worked there less than one year.

“Some people get in these positions and there’s no oversight,” said Thomas Raftery III, a former FBI agent who investigated construction and contract fraud in the Afghanistan war zone.

“And that just opens up the floodgates. You gotta have some type of system of checks and balances and it doesn’t look like this county had any.”

The FBI investigation: 18 months and counting

Federal officials confirmed Wanda Greene “and others” were under investigation in August 2017, more than a month after county officials flagged financial irregularities during Greene’s last week as manager.

The investigation continues nearly a year and a half later. That’s common, former FBI agents said.

“Some of these types of investigations, they’ve taken several years — as many as five years,” Raftery said. “It depends on what’s involved, what else is going on. The agents typically have other cases, so there’s peaks and valleys in attention.”

Raftery said it’s likely the county investigation has required “a whole host of subpoenas.” The superseding indictment, in which a grand jury indicted Greene for additional charges in August, is evidence that investigators likely are picking up additional information along the way, he said.

Raftery, who has 23 years of federal law enforcement experience and served as the first inspector general for the Delaware River Port Authority, said the FBI also pays special attention to professional services contracts like those granted to Wiseman. In North Carolina and other states, they’re not subject to bidding requirements and “are a great way to shield bribes,” he said.

“They’re just more prone to manipulation,” Raftery said.

Clark said corruption cases can be complicated. A 22-year veteran of the FBI, he supervised the investigation of former Connecticut Gov. John Rowland, a case that ultimately led to the governor’s imprisonment for corruption and fraud.

Clark also oversaw major bribery and kickback investigations of several mayors throughout the state, and his work on high-profile corruption cases made the bureau’s public integrity operation in Connecticut a national model. He now is a senior lecturer in the criminal justice department at the University of New Haven.

Investigators looking into Buncombe County likely have been working through subpoenaed records, from credit card statements to travel documents, Clark said. And corruption cases often work on “moving up the food chain,” he said — finding others, perhaps more significant participants, potentially engaged in corruption.

“Let’s say they get a plea or someone decides to cooperate,” Clark said. “They’re cooperating behind the scenes before they even plead, most of the time. (Investigators) are lifting up the rocks and taking a peek and looking around, and they are sent down a whole new path.”

And the decision to cooperate is a common one, he said.

“For the most part, they’re not hardened criminals who are used to doing jail time,” Clark said. “If you’re a drug dealer or in the mob, that’s a red badge of courage. With a white-collar crime person or a public official, that’s not the case.

“They’ll cut a deal.”

‘There’s got to be checks and balances’

Internal control weaknesses were responsible for nearly half of all fraud cases, according the fraud examiners’ report. In Buncombe, officials quickly became aware of what they lacked, albeit after the fact.

“When they’ve been in that one job for that long, they certainly know how to manipulate the system, there’s no question about that,” Clark said. “They know where they can hide things or grab things from, things along those lines.”

The investigation revealed glaring problems in Buncombe County government.

Commissioners never received line-item budgets under Greene, never gave her annual performance reviews and did not regularly ask for information about her expense reports. Greene, meanwhile, redacted receipts she submitted for reimbursement, was accused of using bullying and intimidation techniques, and never reported back to commissioners on no-bid contracts,.

The county has since overhauled its policies, clamping down on how economic development money is spent, capping performance bonuses and promoting their whistleblower hotline. They’ve also changed auditing firms, strengthened the role of the county’s internal auditor and required more public reporting of contract activity.

Raftery said oversight is key, even if it’s unpopular in the organization. As inspector general, he said he regularly received pushback after issuing negative reports and implementing policies against waste and fraud. He left the job in 2014, penning a scathing resignation letter that accused officials of interfering with his independent watchdog role and preventing him from issuing audits.

Commissioners need to take responsibility for their fiduciary duty, Raftery said, and that includes being aware of contracts that don’t require their approval.

And they should remember that the county manager works for them, not the other way around, he said.

“What little I saw (about the case) just struck me — where is the oversight?” Raftery said. “Nobody’s watching. You’ve got two, three people there it looks like just doing whatever they wanted to do.

“And they got caught. Because, eventually, you’re going to get caught.”

A New Business Internet Scam Puts Companies in Legal Hot Water

By Erick Sherman

Criminals are trying to turn companies into money mules, according to the FBI.

Under the scam, criminals with illegally gained money—often through other Internet frauds—get a company to receive cash and then forward it to an account in another country. The intent is to get around official scrutiny of financial transactions.

Money mule schemes themselves aren’t new. In the past they targeted consumers, some of whom were aware of the schemes and others taken in by a con artist. The criminals often disguised themselves as work-from-home opportunities, according to the U.S. Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT), although another popular approach was romantic interaction that starts on a dating site.

Now companies are targets, according to the Associated Press. One executive in Connecticut received an email from someone who seemed to be the small business’s owner requesting a money transfer. It was really a money mule plot targeting companies, schools, and non-profits.

“They trial and error this stuff and they see what works and they see what doesn’t,” FBI supervisory special agent James Abbott told AP.

Not only will money mule scammers try what seem to be legitimate requests, but also might try attacking computer systems for covert access to bank details.

The Department of Justice began to more heavily target money mule scams starting October 1, the agency said in a press release. It has worked to stop 400 money mules in 65 federal districts.

Potential consequences for being a money mule include frozen bank accounts, prosecution, and liability for others’ losses. The consequences can be serious, so companies should be on guard. CERT suggests companies use anti-virus and anti-spyware, limit access to sensitive data, regularly check employee lists and financial transactions, and consider isolating computers that perform banking functions from other systems.

Europe Ends Scandal-Plagued 2018 With Plan to Target Money Laundering

The European Council agreed recently to give greater supervisory powers to the European Banking Authority, ending a year defined by lender scandals with a plan to prevent money laundering.

One problem, however, is that the action doesn’t sufficiently address existing deficiencies spread across the bloc’s financial-services sector, according to lawyers and bankers.

The European Council first rolled out its proposals in September. Its leaders will have to reach an agreement with the European Parliament before the rules can be adopted and applied.

The European Union also earlier this year approved its fifth anti-money-laundering directive, requiring member states to implement new rules by 2020. But the rules are enforced by each individual state, leading to what many observers call a patchwork that leaves parts of the bloc open to abuse.

The U.S. has led the way on anti-money-laundering enforcement in recent years, but in the past year Europe has worked to catch up, while multiple lenders there faced scandal during the year.

Dutch prosecutors in September imposed a record fine on ING GroepNV, while Malta’s Pilatus Bank Ltd. this year lost its license to operate following allegations in the U.S. of money laundering and sanctions violations against its chairman. Meanwhile, Latvia’s ABLV Bank AS liquidated itself following U.S. allegations of money laundering, bribery and sanctions violations.

And a multilateral investigation into the Tallinn, Estonia, branch of Denmark’s Danske Bank A/S is continuing, with Estonian authorities in December making their first arrests as they probe a potential quarter-trillion-euro money-laundering scandal.

Simon Airey, a partner at the law firm Paul Hastings LLP, said there is a large disparity in anti-money-laundering controls between the best and worst banks and countries in Europe. That disparity has provided a feeding ground for organized criminals, kleptocrats and the professionals who enable them, he said.

The European Council “clearly thinks that the only way to achieve a more level playing field is through more centralized supervisory and enforcement powers,” he said.

Andris Ivanovs, a London-based associate at law firm Ropes & Gray LLP specializing in litigation and enforcement practices, said the agreement struck this month doesn’t address the fundamental vulnerabilities of money laundering that exist as a result of some member states failing to enforce the rules.

“The uncomfortable truth is that some member states will continue to be gateways into the EU financial system for proceeds of crime,” he said.

Morgan Stanley Fined Over Anti-Money Laundering Program

By Ross Snel

Finra has slapped Morgan Stanley Smith Barney with a $10 million fine for problems in its anti-money laundering program that lasted more than five years.

In an announcement Wednesday, the self-regulator for the brokerage industry said Morgan Stanley’s AML program failed to meet requirements of the Bank Secrecy Act because of three shortcomings:

•Morgan Stanley did not allocate enough resources to review alerts generated by that surveillance system, so its analysts frequently closed alerts without sufficient investigation and/or documentation.

•The company’s AML department failed to “reasonably monitor” customers’ deposits and trades in penny stocks for suspicious activity.

Finra said it found other problems, including a failure to create and maintain a supervisory system capable of complying with securities laws that generally prohibit the offer or sale of unregistered securities. According to the regulator, the company divided responsibility for reviewing customers’ deposits and sales of penny stocks among branch managers and two home-office departments with insufficient coordination among them.

Additionally, Finra said the Morgan Stanley failed to implement policies and procedures to ensure it was conducting periodic risk-based reviews of correspondent accounts it kept for some foreign financial institutions.

The action underscores the importance for broker-dealers of developing and maintaining robust AML programs that are in full compliance with the law.

“As we stated in our Report on Finra Examination Findings released earlier this month, Finra continues to find problems with the adequacy of some firms’ overall AML programs, including allocation of AML monitoring responsibilities, data integrity in AML automated surveillance systems, and firm resources for AML programs,” said Susan Schroeder, Finra executive vice president, Department of Enforcement, in the announcement. “Firms must ensure that their AML programs are reasonably designed to detect and cause the reporting of potentially suspicious activity.”

FBI warns of money laundering scams using ‘money mules’

By Eric Tucker & Michael Balsamo

WASHINGTON — The email caught the executive at a small Connecticut company by surprise one morning in 2016. The company’s owner, or so he thought, was requesting a money transfer to pay for supplies from a new vendor.

It wasn’t until that night when the executive, hours after the money had been wired and still puzzled by the out-of-the-blue demand, texted the owner to make sure he’d heard the request correctly.

The befuddled reply was disheartening: “I just saw your message about a wire transfer today. What is this about?”

It was a fraud scam that targeted companies in Connecticut and elsewhere in the United States and that resulted this month in a 45-month prison sentence for one of the culprits. The case is part of a seemingly endless cycle of money laundering schemes that law enforcement officials say they’re scrambling to slow through a combination of prosecution and public awareness. Beyond the run-of-the-mill plots, officials say, is a particularly concerning trend involving “money mules” — people who, unwittingly or not, use their own bank accounts to move money for criminals for purposes they think are legitimate or even noble.

The “mule” concept has attracted renewed attention with this month’s release of Clint Eastwood’s “The Mule,” a real-life tale of an elderly horticulturist who smuggled cocaine for a Mexican cartel. But the modern-day mules of most concern to the FBI are people who get themselves entangled in complicated, international money laundering schemes that cause millions of dollars in losses and show no signs of stopping.

“They trial and error this stuff and they see what works and they see what doesn’t,” FBI supervisory special agent James Abbott said in an interview. “It’s a much higher success rate when you have a lot of money using somebody else’s account going through there instead of trying to cross the border with a physical transportation of cash.”

The FBI and international law enforcement agencies have stepped up efforts against the fraud and say they’re building bigger cases than before. Europol said this month it had identified 1,504 money mules, arresting 168, in a continent-wide bust. The FBI in June announced the arrests of 74 people, including 29 in Nigeria, for schemes targeting businesses and the elderly, and this month launched a publicity campaign called “Don’t Be a Mule.”

The money mule cases are an offshoot of more generic frauds encountered by the FBI, including schemes that dupe people into thinking they’ve won the lottery and can claim their prizes by wiring an advance payment, or that trick the unsuspecting into believing a relative has been arrested and needs urgent bail money or that a supposed paramour they’ve met online requires cash. In cases like the Connecticut one, fraudsters assume identities of executives and scam employees into wiring cash.

That’s what happened in 2016 at Beacon Systems, a Texas company where a new employee received an email from someone she thought was the chief executive officer instructing her to transfer nearly $100,000 for a vendor-related payment. Several weeks later, Kerry Williams, the CEO whose identity was impersonated, was on her way to the airport when an FBI official contacted her and explained how the company had been victimized as part of a much broader swindle. A dual Nigerian-U.S. citizen was ultimately sentenced to four years in prison in connection with the scheme.

“It makes you kind of paranoid,” Williams said, describing how the experience made the SAP consulting firm more vigilant. “Even to this day, we’re overly cautious about everything. I think you kind of go to that extreme.”

As for money mules, they’re persuaded, sometimes with the incentive of keeping a cut of the funds, into allowing money transfers to their own bank accounts at the direction of a fraudster they may mistake for an online friend or romantic partner, a military officer overseas or an employer. They’re then instructed to transfer those funds elsewhere, into accounts controlled by criminals.

In one case, the FBI says, a fraudster posing as an Army captain stationed overseas recruited a man he met online to be a money mule, saying he was making arrangements to travel home and needed the man’s help receiving and sending some funds. The FBI says $10,000 was wired into the man’s account. He was instructed to withdraw it in small increments and send it to someone else in Texas.

The mules are sometimes witting conspirators. Other times, they’re often elderly, lonely or confused. In those cases, they’re questioned by the FBI and given warnings but generally avoid prosecution. The FBI says it’s interviewed more than 300 people suspected of acting as money mules.

“When we approach them and talk to them and explain to them what they’ve been doing, a lot of times, the horror is there, said Steven D’Antuono, an FBI section chief specializing in financial crimes. “It’s all walks of life, all educational levels. Anyone can fall victim to this.”

In the Connecticut case, the executive explained those horrors in a letter to the judge before the sentencing this month of the defendant, Adeyemi Odufuye.

The executive, whose name and company are redacted in the letter, described feeling initially apprehensive about the money transfer instructions and advising the company owner that it was a “lot of money for supplies.”

That night, he described the interactions to his wife, who asked if he was really certain the emails were legitimate. He suddenly wasn’t so sure, realizing for the first time he may have been duped.

“Because of crimes like these,” he wrote, “our society is losing much of the trust and openness that we once experienced.”

Government watchdog ends intense oversight of U.S. Bank’s fight against money laundering

By Evan Ramstad

The banking industry’s top government watchdog has ended intense scrutiny of U.S. Bancorp’s anti-money laundering practices after three years, a period in which the company spent heavily to improve safeguards against criminal activity.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) in late November terminated a 2015 consent order that found that U.S. Bank, the nation’s fifth largest, lacked an adequate “system of internal controls” and “inadequate training” regarding money laundering.

Minneapolis-based U.S. Bank announced the termination of the order late last week.

The end of the consent order signaled acceptance by regulators of the company’s new measures to comply with anti-money laundering laws and the Bank Secrecy Act, the 1970 law that requires banks to work with the government to combat money laundering.

“The OCC believes that the safety and soundness of the bank and its compliance with laws and regulations does not require the continued existence of the order,” the federal agency said in the document that terminated the 2015 consent order.

The order was an early sign of larger trouble for U.S. Bank as the agency and federal prosecutors examined suspicious transactions at the bank from 2009 to 2014. In February this year, the company agreed to pay $613 million to the federal government to settle charges that it did not guard against money laundering.

When the settlement was announced, U.S. Bancorp Chief Executive Andy Cecere said the company “accepted responsibility for the past deficiencies.” He added: “Our culture of ethics and integrity demands that we do better.”

Regulators and prosecutors found problems in the overall program and processes to combat money laundering at U.S. Bank. Among them: U.S. Bank restricted resources used to check on money laundering, limited the number of transactions it reviewed and didn’t tell regulators about those limits.

In response, the government forced U.S. Bank to examine each line of business for its ability to spot customers trying to engage in such criminal behavior and develop new training procedures for employees.

At the heart of the government investigations was a case involving a payday lending company based in Kansas run by a former race car driver named Scott Tucker. He was sentenced earlier this year to 16 years in prison for illegally charging customers extremely high interest rates — as much as 1,000 percent — and trying to conceal his operations from regulators by basing them on American Indian reservations.

From 2008 to 2012, Tucker’s companies generated more than $2 billion in revenue and hundreds of millions in profit, with most of the money moving through U.S. Bank accounts. The government alleged U.S. Bank employees ignored signs that Tucker was using American Indian tribes to conceal his ownership of the payday lending company and related accounts.

Tucker’s story gained attention on the Netflix “Dirty Money” series this year. In September, the government announced that about $505 million would be returned to scores of people who were swindled by Tucker’s firms.

Former UT law school official indicted for theft, money laundering

By Mary Huber

A former facilities director at the University of Texas School of Law was indicted this week by a Travis County grand jury on charges of theft, money laundering and abuse of official capacity.

Jason Shoumaker who worked for the university for 10 years, was fired last year after a co-worker made a complaint about his spending, which prompted an internal investigation that was later referred to the Travis County district attorney’s office.

Shoumaker was arrested in May on six counts of tampering with government records after authorities said he had been reporting for work and collecting pay while he was in Las Vegas, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Cozumel and other places, according to arrest affidavits filed against him. He also was accused of using fraudulent time sheets to try to get a larger employment separation payout after he was fired, the documents say. Shoumaker has not been indicted on those charges.

The indictments handed down Wednesday say he unlawfully took money from UT without its consent through criminal activity. Court documents do not specify how much he is accused of taking, but say the amount was $300,000 or more, the minimum required to be charged with a first-degree felony.

The documents say the theft began about Jan. 10, 2013, and continued until Aug. 23, 2017. They allege that Shoumaker had used procurement cards, contracts, invoices and money that he got through his employment at UT to make fraudulent payments to himself and several companies, including Northpoint Commercial, TC Consulting, A&G Electric, Peal & Associates, Assertive Business Solutions, Tommy’s Garage and Central Transportation Services.

Shoumaker was arrested Wednesday and released shortly after posting bond, jail records show. If convicted, he faces between 5 to 99 years in prison and a fine of $10,000 for each charge.

“There is not a whole lot to say at this juncture,” his attorney, Perry Minton, said Thursday. “The stuff he was charged with a number of months ago and what he was indicted on yesterday are all matters we have not seen a single thing on. It is a very technical forensic accounting deal that has taken them months to put together. It’s going to take that long for us to do the same. If he has done something that has cost the university money, he is going to be responsible for it and pay it back, but we are going to have our own forensic investigators before we talk about anything.”

According to the arrest affidavits filed against Shoumaker in May, several co-workers told authorities they started noticing in 2016 that he wasn’t showing up to work and “didn’t seem to be doing his job anymore.”

One colleague said she often covered for him and would send him text messages from time to time to see where he was, the court documents say. She said one week he had texted that he was on his way to work, but investigators found that he was in Las Vegas at the time and that his personal credit card had been used for taxi rides, professional massages and lunch at Hooters, according to the affidavits.

He also had charged meals, alcohol and rental cars in Florida, California and in Port Aransas during times he said he was working, the affidavits say. He had no state business in those locations at the time, the court documents say.

Shoumaker had not been submitting electronic time sheets to the university and had been told to report all vacation time directly to human resources because of poor work performance, the affidavits say. After he was fired, the human resources director asked him to submit electronic time sheets, which were found to be fraudulent, the documents say.

UT spokesman Gary Susswein said the university has already taken steps to improve its spending control and procedures, including tightening signature requirements by project managers and allocating more resources to monitor its procurement card program, which allows faculty and staff members to charge expenditures related to their jobs.

The university also hired legal counsel after learning of the allegations against Shoumaker to conduct an internal review of his entire work history at UT and all other issues related to the case. That review is still ongoing, the university said.

“The University of Texas takes its responsibility as a steward of public dollars extremely seriously and will continue to work closely with the district attorney as the investigation and prosecution of Mr. Shoumaker moves forward,” Susswein said.

Broker Is the First Charged Under Money-Laundering ‘Red Flag’ Law

By Erik Larson and Bob Van Voris

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan filed the first criminal charge against a U.S. broker-dealer under a decades-old anti-money-laundering law, accusing a small Kansas firm of ignoring “red flags” about a shady payday lender.

Central States Capital Markets failed to file a suspicious-activity report related to former customer Scott Tucker, who’s serving a 16-year sentence for using Native American tribal entities to hide a massive payday-lending scheme, prosecutors in New York said Wednesday. The 1970 Bank Secrecy Act requires financial institutions to assist in detecting and preventing money laundering, such as reporting cash transactions above $10,000. A 1992 amendment required the suspicious-activity reports.

Central States, based in Prairie Village, Kansas, agreed to forfeit $400,000 and enhance its bank-secrecy and anti-money-laundering compliance program, prosecutors said. The suit stems from the company’s “willful failure” to alert authorities to Tucker’s behavior, even after the firm’s chief executive officer was tipped off to major elements of the scheme by Tucker himself.

Under the agreement, overseen by U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken, the case against Central States will be deferred for two years and then dismissed.

The 25-person firm failed to follow its own procedures for dealing with suspicious activities when it opened investment accounts for Native American tribal entities that Tucker was using to mask his illegal operation, the government said.

“CSCM’s anti-money-laundering program was operated with serious gaps in oversight, responsiveness and diligence,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement. “As a result, CSCM failed to investigate and report suspicious transactions relating to a historically significant pay-day lending fraud.”

The company, in an emailed statement, said it was pleased to have resolved the case and that it “accepts full responsibility for the past deficiencies” in its anti-money-laundering program. The firm said it will hire a full-time chief compliance officer, step up training and hire a consultant to conduct annual reviews.

In October 2017, Tucker and his lawyer, Timothy Muir, were convicted after a trial in federal court in Manhattan for their roles in a “massive payday lending scheme” that targeted people across the U.S. with short-term, unsecured loans with interest rates as high as 700 percent, the U.S. said.

According to prosecutors, Tucker attempted to get around the numerous state usury laws he violated by entering into sham relationships with tribal entities to mask his control of the company and gain the protection of their tribal sovereign immunity. In 2012, he even alerted the chief executive officer of Central States of his plan for the tribal entities, but the company ignored the red flag, the U.S. said.

“Numerous suspicious transactions went undetected and unreported by CSCM,” the government said